Is your house making you feel stressed, overloaded, overwhelmed, uninspired at the moment?
A few years ago I wrote a post about the Danish practice of Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga). In short it originates from the Norwegian word meaning ‘wellbeing’ and it’s about focusing on making our homes comfortable, peaceful and cosy which can induce positive emotions. Back then I shared some tips on how you could make your home more ‘hygellig’. So if this sounds interesting to you and you want to find out more, I’m giving you permission to grab a cup of tea or coffee in your favourite mug, sit in your favourite spot and read on.
“Hygge is about giving your responsible, stressed-out achiever adult a break. Relax, just for a little while. It is about experiencing happiness in simple pleasures and knowing that everything is going to be ok.”
I’ve been thinking about the notion of Hygge over the past few weeks and how creating a ‘hygge’ home can have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Especially as we are spending so much more time in our own homes, sometimes with limited space. To me, Hygge is a very important concept as it has a direct link with increased feelings of happiness, gratitude, mindfulness (appreciating being in the moment), self-compassion (being kind to ourselves), whilst also reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. The Danes are ranked as one of the happiest nations in the world, part of which is attributed to living a hygge focussed lifestyle.
‘Cosiness of the soul’
‘The absence of annoyance’
‘Like a hug without touching’
There are simple things that you can do in your home to help create these feelings:
Hyggekrog – Create a small cosy area somewhere in your home where you can snuggle up in a blanket, with a book and hot drink.
Candles – One of my favourites, I always light a candle of an evening.
Lighting – Favour soft, warm low lighting instead of always using the ‘big’ ceiling light or fluorescent lights.
Wood – Having items in your home made of wood can bring feelings of warmth and cosiness – flooring, furniture, toys.
Nature – Bringing the outside in – flowers, twigs, plants. Helps us to feel closer to nature.
Books – Taking a break with a good book is very beneficial to your wellbeing. Take it to your hyggekrog (your cozy nook) and read or if you have young children you can snuggle there together and read.
Ceramics – A favourite mug (I have one that a very dear friend bought me for Christmas), a tea pot to brew your tea in or a gorgeous vase that you like to display your flowers in.
Tactile – How something feels is very important. Tactile materials are favoured over things like plastic and glass. For example a soft rug underfoot.
Vintage – Creating nostalgia with older objects in your home – a chair, a lamp, a photo frame are all very hyggeligt. It’s about the history and memories surrounding the item.
Blankets and cushions – These are cosiness ‘must haves’ in any home. These soft textures help to soothe anxieties and calm fears.
Sociable activities – Gatherings with friends and family in the home. Connection works best when they are casual so that everyone is relaxed. (We can all look forward to when we are allowed to do this again post lockdown).
Another idea I love is having an ‘Hygge Emergency Kit’ at home – This is for when you don’t have any plans or don’t feel like going out (pretty much all of us at the moment!) or you just want some quality time alone. It’s a your fast track to Hygge:
Candles, good quality chocolate, your favourite tea or hot chocolate, your favourite book, your favourite film or boxset, family treats, lovely pair of woollen socks, a warm jumper, a notebook and pen, a warm blanket, music, photo album, old letters etc.
So what are the benefits to all of this?
A hygge style environment helps us to feel calm and safe so our body responds in a positive way. We do not need to scan our environment and stay on high alert as there are no perceived physical or mental threats.
Improved practice of self care
Less reliant on unhealthy coping mechanisms i.e. alcohol
Fewer stress hormone spikes and the feelings that go with this
Creating a cozy warm environment can help us to feel calm and less anxious. This is because we make sense of our environment and experiences through sight, touch, smell, taste and sound. These feelings of comfort make it much easier for us, and those we share our home with, to let down our guard, be more present and connect with each other.
Increased feelings of self worth leading to improved self compassion
Reduction in stress
Positive impact on depression and anxiety
Greater sense of mindfulness (experiencing and appreciating being in that moment in time)
Increased feelings of optimism and gratitude
Social benefits (once we are out of lockdown):
We are naturally social beings and when we are emotionally safe and comfortable it is easier for us to build connections with others. Spending time with those most important to us makes us feel a sense of belonging and connection which positively impacts us.
Improved existing relationships
Feelings of comfort, safety and togetherness
Less reliance on social media for connections
You may already incorporate some of these concepts into the way you live. However if this is new to you perhaps take a look at your living space and think about what small changes you could make so that your home is more hygellig. It wouldn’t take much to reap the benefits of hygge.
I’d love to hear how you get on with this.